Netflix is video games now.
So here’s a little fun fact about me, I absolutely adore games that give you multiple choices and multiple endings. I will play all of them (Yes, even the David Cage ones), however the problem with these kinds of games is that they aren’t very good when it comes to their story – Mainly because it becomes very clear that certain choice paths were given a lot more attention and care than others and the game ultimately suffers from that.
…So here comes Bandersnatch an episode of Black Mirror set in 1984 where a young man wishes to turn a choose your own adventure novel into an interactive choice-based video game with multiple paths (Very meta, I know). The protagonist has a meeting set up with one of the best game development studios that crank out hit after hit – The protagonist also meets one of the best devs in the business, Colin; he’s that guy all the memes are made about now because he looks like the evil kid from the first Toy Story.
Anyways, over here you are given your first major choice which could lead to a fail state. I’m not going to spoil it for you too much, but the story really begins after you choose the right option while at Tuckersoft. Once that’s out of the way our baby boy protag begins developing his game at home where he starts to slowly lose his mind when frustration, paranoia, past traumas and all kinds of fun stuff start getting brought up.
So no more spoilers. I would highly recommend that everyone seriously do check this game / episode out regardless of what I say because it’s still a good experience.
I can’t really pinpoint what it is trying to be as a game because there are two factors at play here. One where it wants to be an interactive experience much like a game, and one where it simply wants to be an episode of Black Mirror, and I think it succeeds more with the latter as a game would imply there would be repercussions to making the wrong decisions; instead if you hit a fail state you just get transported back to where you made the decision to make the opposite one. Now, that’s not necessarily bad however, as the main problem I have with games like Heavy Rain or Telltale Games is that sometimes I just wanna see everything in one playthrough, as replaying those games can be quite a drag.
So in that sense, I say that Bandersnatch is really good about the content it provides since you get to see most of it in one viewing, and if you’re worried about seeing all the endings you don’t need to worry about that either since they pretty much show you all of the endings around the end in a pretty clever way.
The story of Bandersnatch itself is certainly not one of Black Mirrors best – though I haven’t seen everything Black Mirror has to offer as of yet – as it’s still really entertaining and with the added level of interactivity, it makes for some really cool and meta-storytelling. If you want an example of what I mean, the best comparison I can make is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty where Raiden starts to realise he isn’t fully in control of what he’s doing.
So yeah it’s pretty interesting with what it does with the interactive aspect to enhance the story-telling but other than that the story is pretty standard. Not saying that it’s bad or anything it’s just that it’s not anything too crazy once you think about it a little.
So what’s the verdict on Bandersnatch? It’s pretty good – I think the decision to make a lot of the options replayable and easy to go back to is the best thing about it, as I mentioned earlier that more experiences of this genre are extremely annoying in that aspect, so by making it a more viewer-friendly experience was extremely beneficial to it… But other than that I don’t think I would still want to go back to it or rewatch it, since I’ve practically seen everything in it… And I’m fine with that too. This is a new and interesting time for entertainment platforms and I can only wonder what kind of wacky shit Netflix will put out next. I’d even be down for more interactive Black Mirror episodes. But anyways,
I give Bandersnatch a: